Seeing as SSLs.com is, well, an SSL website, we cover primarily security-related topics on the blog, as well as everything you need to know about SSL certificates. But what about what comes before SSLs even cross your mind? Before that, you need a website, and before that, you need to know how to buy a domain name for that website. A good one.
If this has been on your mind lately, this guide is for you. Read on to discover all the key points of buying and registering a domain.
- Brainstorm domain names
Before we tell you how to buy a domain name, you must generate ideas. Whether creating a personal website, starting an online business, or bringing your brand online, coming up with a memorable domain name is one of the most critical parts of the process. This is because you want users to find your site easily without any confusion. It’s about finding something that sticks in their minds that they won’t mix up other site names.
But what are the elements of a memorable domain?
Some specifics may be up for debate, but consensus dictates that keeping it short and straightforward is vital. No more than 15 characters long without unusual or hard-to-spell words. Likewise, avoid numbers, hyphens, and special characters. They’re not intuitive for users, which adds to the risk of them incorrectly typing your domain into the address bar and ending up on the wrong website.
You should also consider your niche and potential competitors throughout the process. Try to come up with a name relevant to what you do but isn’t already being used by sites with similar goals. This is an excellent time to try your hand at keyword research to come up with a list of words that are relevant to your space. It will also be good practice for when you want to create SEO-friendly website content.
Now that you’ve created a list of potential domain names, what comes next? That would be buying the domain.
2. Find a reputable domain registrar
To buy a domain name, you need to do so from a reputable registrar. A domain registrar is an organization that sells domain names, providing official registration and IP addresses to anyone buying. Like any online purchase, you probably shouldn’t just go with the first store you find. There are a few things you should look for in a registrar:
ICANN accreditation: Short for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN keeps the Internet’s domain name system running smoothly. A part of that is ensuring each registrar meets the technical, operational, and financial criteria necessary to operate properly. Be wary of any site claiming to be a registrar that doesn’t have proper accreditation. This list of ICANN accredited registrars will help.
Good reviews and testimonials: We’re bombarded with so many options in the online shopping landscape that prior research has become vital before handing over any hard-earned cash. Ascertaining a registrar’s reputation should be a must-do before committing. You can do that by reviewing external review sites and forums to get a good idea of how people have fared using this registrar in the past.
Fair prices: While weighing up different registrars, you’ll probably notice that prices can vary. So consider your own budget, how much renewals for the domain name cost, and whether or not that works for you. You can find up-to-date price comparisons on Domcomp and TLD-List.
Complementary services: Basic services include an easy-to-use panel for managing your domain name and domain privacy, so your information isn’t readily available online. Many registrars also offer a wealth of other website services, from hosting to email addresses and website building. Not everyone likes to have everything in one place, but if you value convenience, you should look into potential packages to suit your needs.
3. See what’s available and finalize your TLD
A big part of how to buy a domain name is picking the right top-level domain (TLD). This is where you might need to get a little creative if a domain you wanted isn’t available or way out of your price range. A good registrar will have a comprehensive search function listing the different TLDs you can choose from, as well as any sales or deals.
But what exactly is a TLD? It is the suffix on all domain names online — everything from .com to .net. The TLD can help set the tone for your website, whether you want that to be seen as serious or fun. Here’s a quick guide to the different types:
Professional: .com is still the winner when it comes to tried-and-true TLDs that will make people take your website seriously. .org and .net are classic options that immediately bring a professional air to your domain. Some newer, still professional, but more modern options include .co, .biz, and .inc.
Geographic: This can help ground you as a local business to potential customers. More general TLDs in this category include .asia and .co.uk. You can also get very specific with these types. For example, there’s .koeln for Cologne, Germany, and .brussels for the capital city in Belgium.
Quirky: These are the fun types of TLDs you can get most creative with, but the downside is that they’re not always perceived as being the most professional or trustworthy. For a more serious business, it’s probably not an ideal option. But if you’re targeting a younger audience, it may not be a problem. You can also get hyper-specific with your niche. Think .pizza for a pizza place or .coffee for a cafe. Something like .design, .portfolio, or .art could be ideal for freelancers.
4. Verify ownership with ICANN
When you purchase a domain, it’s required that you verify your contact information for domain registration. This also stops other people from using your domain. It must be done within two weeks of purchase. This might look a bit different depending on which registrar you go with. There might be a button in your account panel or a link to click in a verification email. Whatever the case, make sure you do it within the specified timeframe, otherwise, you may lose the domain.
Where to go from here
Now you should be the owner of a shiny new domain name that perfectly represents your brand or business. Next, you’ll need to sort out hosting and start building a website. (And don’t forget to secure it with an SSL certificate!) If you want to hold on to your chosen domain name, be sure to keep an eye on its expiration date so that you remember to renew it before it can potentially fall out of your hands. To avoid losing it, turn on auto-renewals so you never have to worry about it.
Cora is a digital copywriter for SSLs.com. Having eight years of experience in online content creation, she is a versatile writer with an interest in a wide variety of topics, ranging from technology to marketing.